Posted on:
3rd May, 2023

LEP benefits business at local level with cash boost for creative tech sector.

The creative tech (createch) cluster is continuing to expand in Stoke-On-Trent with the Dog and Bone Group announcing four new tenants within the digital creative technology industry across two former pottery factories thanks to the Stoke and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

LEP benefits business at local level with cash boost for creative tech sector.

The new companies add to an existing 26 businesses which harness talent from local universities creating exciting job opportunities for graduates within Stoke.

The Potbank development is a mixed-use development within renovated heritage buildings as part of the Spode Works comprising a hotel, restaurant/café and events spaces and a number of commercial spaces occupied by digital creative technology businesses.

The latest phase of the Potbank Scheme includes:

  • Digital/creative studios and hybrid events spaces that will become anchor resources for the Stoke Town “Createch Cluster”. 
  • 2 new Createch businesses moving into Carlton House bringing the number of Createch entities in and around Stoke Town/Spode up to 30.
  • Improved event and catering facilities for the Quarter and Factory Floor event and hospitality spaces.
  • New facilities at Potbank linking to the Spode Museum and other parts of the Spode Site with disabled access.

The details of the developments etc. are as follows:

Digital/Createch Studios at Potbank:

The new Potbank tenants supported by the scheme are multimedia creative agency, i-creation who occupy the 49m2 office and international advertising agency VCCP who now occupy the 82m2 studio, production and gallery facility. These tenants have joined Popcorn Learning Media who also produce media content at Potbank and other local creative media businesses that regularly use facilities there.

In the past 2 months D&B have also let 2 office/ studio Suites in Carlton House (opposite Spode) bringing a further 10 createch Jobs into Stoke-on-Trent with room for planned expansion.

Jeff Nash of The Potbank states that the Dog and Bone Group are one of the key anchors and Stakeholders in the “Createch Cluster” of media technology businesses emerging in and around Stoke Town.

He explained the background and how this relates to the new developments:

“Since the end of the pandemic we have been trying to curate all our new tenancies around a cluster of businesses in the same media-tech space.

All these businesses have common roots and connections to the media faculties at the University and include animators, digital artists, gaming tech developers, artists using tech as a route to market via blogging, websites and apps and even NFTs.

“The formation of this group was founded on a number of local USPs including: Stoke’s creative traditions; the emerging Silicon Stoke infrastructure; the world leading media and other creative faculties at Staffordshire University producing a pipeline of talent; and, some momentum generated by a group of collaborating artists and businesses already in existence within the “Spode Creative Village” and around Stoke Town.”

The Potbank Group also successfully secured loan funding from the Government’s Growing Places Fund provided through the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP (SSLEP). The Growing Places Fund was first launched in 2011 to support key infrastructure projects designed to unlock wider economic growth, create jobs and build houses. While currently there are no live calls for bids, many of the projects that received loan funding are still realising the benefits of the support.

The support is in the form of an interest-free loan repayable in full by Dog and Bone. The loan will help complete the remaining works of the final phase of the Potbank development at the former Spode Works Site in the centre of Stoke, and will indirectly support other related developments by Dog and Bone elsewhere in Stoke Town.

Alun Rogers, chair of SSLEP, commented:

“We’ve been proud to support important development projects across the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire area over the past ten years, and the Growing Places Fund is a great example of Government investment that we’ve been able to deploy to benefit businesses at a local level.

“Createch is a sector with great potential in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, evidenced by the businesses in this space that are already popping-up across the area and the ongoing investment into inspiring workspaces like Potbank at Spode Works. It’s been fantastic to play a part in enabling the latest phase of this strategic development to go ahead.”

In the SSLEP area, the Growing Places Fund has awarded over £6.5million in loans to date with 929 jobs created, 67,948 sq ft office space, 423,475 sq ft warehouse/commercial, 140 hotel/bedspaces and 394 houses (statistics include achieved and profiled).

D&B estimate that the Createch Cluster now comprises 30 different entities and well over 150 professional staff and is one of Stoke’s fastest growing employment sectors. Although the GPF loan is to support the Potbank scheme, the build up of critical mass in the Createch Cluster is also creating demand from additional new tenants coming into our nearby properties. This is the “multiplier effect” of this focused approach on a local industry with a competitive advantage.

Completion of the remaining works in this final phase of The Potbank expansion scheme:

The funding from the Government’s Growing Places Fund provided through the LEP will enable the Group to complete the remaining works in this phase of the current Potbank expansion early in the year. These will include:

  • Creation of a direct link (including a disabled lift) from the Potbank events spaces and studios into the Spode Museum. This will open up the possibility of the Museum spaces being used in conjunction with the Potbank events spaces for weddings, corporate events and workshops.
  • Opening up an access through Potbank to create a pedestrian and wheelchair access route from Elenora St and Church St to improve footfall, pedestrian and wheelchair access around the site via the important grade 2 listed buildings of the Terrace and bottle Kiln remains and onward to the iconic Spode Gates on Church Street. This will make a pleasant additional route for people to visit the Museum and Potbank from Stoke Town and improve accessibility on the site.
  • Additional kitchen and improved event facilities in the Quarter and Factory Floor. The new facilities will improve the Factory Floor and enhance the event catering facilities to take advantage of the new business being generated from the events business and Museum links.

These new facilities will be supported by the recently installed Lila Connect Fibre “gigabit” connection which will arrive at Potbank early in the new year. This will give 18th  and 19th century heritage buildings a 21st century new lease of life!